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Cohen to face questions on Trump Tower deal, BuzzFeed report at closed-door hearing

Michael Cohen to testify this week
Michael Cohen to testify before Congress this week 05:29

During a closed-door hearing on Tuesday that could last hours, investigators from the Senate Intelligence Committee are expected to grill President Trump's former attorney and confidant Michael Cohen about his involvement in plans to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow and whether the president directed him to lie to Congress. 

Cohen's closed session testimony Tuesday before the committee, which is hailed as one of the last bastions of bipartisanship in Congress, is part of a series of open and closed-door appearances he is scheduled to make on Capitol Hill this week. The president's former lawyer, who will start his 3-year prison sentence in early May, will likely face fierce questioning by committee staff and senators during Tuesday's hearing, which could last more than 10 hours. 

"We will be extremely thorough," Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the committee's chairman, told reporters Tuesday evening, adding that he expects to hear the "truth" from Cohen.

Asked how long the hearing could take, Burr said he has planned accordingly. "I think the last hearing lasted 10.5 hours," he added. 

Investigators plan to question Cohen on a number of topics, including the Trump Tower project in Moscow, sources familiar with the matter tell CBS News. Cohen has admitted lying to Congress about the proposal during earlier sworn testimony, in which he said plans for the tower had fizzled much earlier than they actually did.

Cohen is expected to face questioning on several other lines of inquiry, including:

  • Mr. Trump's business ties to Russia dating back to the 1980s, including key figures he dealt with
  • A disputed BuzzFeed News report from January saying prosecutors had evidence Mr. Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress 
  • Cohen's advocacy for a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine during the transition and early days of the Trump administration, including who he was working with
  • The claim in the so-called "Steele dossier" that Cohen met with Russian agents in Prague, which Cohen has denied

In December 2018, special counsel Robert Mueller's office revealed new information about Cohen's involvement in developing the plans for a Trump Tower in Moscow. According to Mueller's office, Cohen had a conversation with a Russian national who offered to help Mr. Trump in political and business affairs as early as 2015.

"In or around November 2015, Cohen received the contact information for, and spoke with, a Russian national who claimed to be a 'trusted person' in the Russian Federation who could offer the campaign 'political synergy' and 'synergy on a government level,'" prosecutors wrote. According to the special counsel's office, Cohen recalled the individual "repeatedly proposed a meeting between Individual-1 and the President of Russia." Mr. Trump is identified as Individual-1 in the court documents.

Along being sentenced to two months in prison after pleading guilty to lying to Congress, Cohen was also given a 3-year sentence for violating campaign finance law "in coordination with and at the direction" of the president by paying two women to remain silent during the 2016 campaign about their alleged affairs with Mr. Trump. 

Nancy Cordes and Alan He contributed to this report. 

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